The complete genome of the pea aphid was published in 2010, with help from a team of New Zealand researchers. This 6-year project, involving scientists from 15 countries, could lead to new weapons to fight a major agricultural pest.
Thecontains all the hereditary information of an organism, including its genes and non-coding sequences of the
Professor Peter Dearden led University of Otago’s contribution to the study. He says aphids are a leading agricultural pest and a risk to New Zealand. The vast majority of aphids here are introduced that often carry plant viruses and have significant economic impacts.
“This genome sequence will improve the biological understanding of these remarkable animals. For instance, this research will contribute towards greatly reducing the economic impact these insects currently have on our agricultural economy, by enabling us to develop tailor-made insecticides,” Professor Dearden explains.
Aphids are capable of both sexual andreproduction. When reproducing asexually, a female aphid contains within its body its children, which then contain its grandchildren – telescoping generations.
Aphids also containwithin their bodies, without which they would die.
“While it has a smaller genome than humans, the aphid genome is still 464 millionlong, which helps explain why unlocking the genetic secrets of this tiny creature required a giant international scientific effort.”